Three environmental groups sued the state and a Spanish wine conglomerate on Thursday over approval of a hotly disputed vineyard project in northwest Sonoma County. The groups oppose plans by Artesa Vineyards and Winery of Napa, owned by the Spanish wine giant Grupo Codorniu, to clear about 150 acres of second-growth forest and former orchard land outside of Annapolis to grow chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. The project, on the drawing board for more than a decade and under state review since 2009, was approved by state forestry officials in May over the objections of environmental interests and several Indian tribes.
Federal officials Tuesday released what they hope will be a final ruling on the area they would oversee in the heart of Sonoma County to protect the endangered California tiger salamander. The latest plan may wind up in court, however, as part of an ongoing fight over a proposed tribal casino in Rohnert Park. The casino site has been excluded from the salamander protection zone.